Founded sometimes in 1976 by Stephen Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. has today become one of the most popular companies in the personal computers industry. Today, the company designs, manufactures and offers for sale a wide variety of consumer electronics including but not in any way limited to portable communication mobile devices and personal computers. Further, the company also avails to consumers a number of related peripherals as well as software and other related services. In this text, I review Apple's marketing strategy and make recommendations on the changes the company needs to make on the same.
Apple Inc.'s Marketing Strategy
Arguable one of the best innovators in the personal computers marketplace, Apple offers for sale a wide range of products and services. When it comes to hardware, the company avails for sale personal computers through its Macintosh PCs line and other portable devices including the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod. When it comes to software, the company comes in through a number of software solutions including but not limited to PC operating system (Mac OS X), the iOS, Aperture, iLife (software for multimedia), iTunes (a media browser) etc. Regarding the company's new product/service development strategy, it can be noted that apple has historically relied on innovation to compete across a number of markets seen to be highly competitive. Further, according to Breillatt (2011), Apple's "new product development is not farmed out across the organization." The firm in this case instead chooses to rely on small teams of designers to develop major products.
Based on the company's impressive performance in terms of sales, one could easily conclude that Apple's current product/service range is largely effective in terms of meeting customer needs. In the last quarter, the company's total revenues were reported as $28.27 billion. Based on the performance of other players in the same industry, Apple's sales are relatively impressive. Further, when it comes to the company's new product/service development strategy, the wild popularity and warm reception some of Apple's products have received in the marketplace serve as an indicator of the company's effectiveness in addressing customer expectations and needs. It is also good to mention that in a big way, by giving the cost leadership strategy a wide berth, Apple continues to be successful because of its adoption of a differentiation strategy as a means of creating competitive advantage (Daft, 2009 p. 68).
When it comes to the marketing strategies Apple adopts for purposes of stimulating demand for its goods and services, it can be noted that the company has largely been successful in executing its marketing strategies given the significant level of competition in the personal computers industry. In regard to segmentation, apple seeks to avail different products and services to different segments of the market. According to Croft (1994, p. 1), market segmentation is a process that concerns itself with the identification of different user groups within a given market who in a way a company can focus on in its quest to sell a product or design a marketing program. For instance, Apple's iPad is designed for progressive and adventurous individuals migrating away from the traditional computer. This assertion is founded on the device's functionality and the absence of conventional peripherals like the mouse and a keyboard. By adopting this strategy, apple has largely been successful in the enhancement of its competitive position. Hence given that the company is not the low cost producer in the market, a move to offer a single product for all would be potentially disastrous.
Further, still on the company's marketing strategies, it can be noted that the company has embraced positioning as a marketing strategy. According to Farrell and Hartline (2010, p. 209), "positioning refers to creating a mental image of the product offering and its differentiating features in the minds of the target market." Apple has largely been successful in molding an identity or image both for itself and its products in the minds of consumers. For instance, it can be noted that Apple packages its products as premium brands that deserve to earn a premium price. Indeed, this is what had in the past driven Microsoft's PR assault on Apple's Mac computers by calling the premium consumers pay for the same an Apple tax (Elmer-DeWitt, 2009). However, in a way, this strategy has enabled Apple to appear unique in comparison to other players competing in the same market and with that, it could be said to have created for itself a distinct competitive advantage. Further, it can be noted that in a way, this marketing strategy rhymes with Apple's strategic goal of netting consumers who are less sensitive in terms of price.
Apple's corporate image as well as its brand strategy and market positioning is yet another area in which apple has excelled as far as the enhancement of its effectiveness and competitiveness is concerned. In basic terms, an entity's corporate image is essentially the perception people have of a given firm. Many individuals consider Apple to be a symbol of creativity, tech savvy-ness and a freethinking culture. This is my own view is a strategy employed, sustained and perpetuated by Apple for purposes of ensuring that it meets its strategic goal of setting a premium price for its goods and services. When it comes to the company's brand strategy, Apple can be said to have created a leading and instantly recognizable brand for both itself and its products. In basic terms, the company's branding strategy mainly concerns itself with people's emotions (Gobe 2010, p. 125). In that regard, the company establishes what is seen to be a genuine connection with people by insisting that its products in addition to easing the lives of individuals also enhance the social standing of such individuals. Hence in a way, the company's brand personality is tailored around the aspirations, passions as well as imaginations and lifestyles of people. As I have already stated earlier on in this text, Apple's market positioning has allowed it to mold a unique identity or image both for itself and its products in the minds of consumers hence allowing it to consistently price its products and services at a premium. Hence in this case, Apple is able to rake in higher margins than its competitors in the personal computers marketplace hence further enhancing its bottom-line.
Part 2: Recommendations for Apple to Further Improve its Marketing Strategies
Apple possesses some distinct strengths in regard to its marketing strategy. As it has been seen in the discussion above, by focusing on the emotions of people i.e. In terms of their aspirations, hopes, imaginations as well as lifestyles; Apple is able to establish a unique connection with the masses. This genuine connection can in a way be taken to be a distinct competitive advantage. Further, it can be noted that the company's marketing technique which attaches a particularly strong emphasis on the relevance of quality and design has largely paid off as consumers now consider Apple a premium brand. Related to this is the premium pricing strategy adopted by Apple. In this case, a majority of those who buy products offered for sale by Apple do so because they believe that those products are actually superior. In relation to the weaknesses in Apple's marketing strategy, it can be noted that the company's resolve to have its presence felt globally by opening numerous stores worldwide has placed it in a precarious position especially when it comes to exposure to currency fluctuations and political risks. Further, adopting a premium pricing strategy in which case the company differentiates its products so as to sell them at a premium could be a disadvantage should we have a low cost producer hitting the market with similar products priced significantly lower than those of Apple. Further, in its quest to remain unique, Apple continues to remain extremely guarded in that most of its products are incompatible with those of other companies. As a result of this, the company risks losing its market share slowly based on the level of competition. The options for improvement in this case include ensuring that some (but not all) of its products are compatible with the products of other companies, development of products targeting the lower income sectors of the market (like Toyota does) and the sale of its products through the use of third-party retail channels.
When it comes to the first option, Apple could consider ensuring that some (but not all) of its products are compatible with the products of other companies. For instance, the company can seek to enhance the compatibility between its iPod digital players with personal computers which happen to be window based. This in my own opinion would push the sales of the company's products even higher. Secondly, when it comes to the development of products targeting the lower income sectors of the market, the company could adopt the same approach embraced by Toyota. In this case, Toyota markets its brands on both the high cost and the low…